4Ward/FrankenFourth: Keep on the Shadowfell

  • Embra (1st-level dwarf wizard)
  • Ivanna (1st-level elf ranger)
  • Thirur (1st-level dwarf fighter)

While we wait to see if our weekly group will want to play this game in a "for realsies" campaign (which I don't expect to happen until our current A Sundered World campaign ends/the group really wants to), we decided to convert our kids' characters from our houseruled 4th Edition campaign over and give it a shot.

I'm still using my modded Keep on the Shadowfell, as it has some nicely stocked dungeons for them to crawl. So far they've gone up against a group of skeletons, some skeletal horses, and another group of skeletons plus death cultists (which crashed the party at about the halfway point). The death cultists ran away, and the characters discovered a hidden passage leading into the catacombs running beneath the keep (which will be explored in our next playtest report).

The fight with the four skeletons went pretty smoothly, for the characters anyway: I don't think any of them took Wound damage (ie, damage that takes a long rest to recover). At this point I was still sticking with the number of enemies from my 5th Edition conversion, just replacing the stat blocks.

The next encounter involved four skeletal horses, and was far more difficult as skeletal horses are larger and one level higher (both of which affects base Vitality and Wounds). They still succeeded, albeit barely: Thurir was almost dropped, and Ivanna's cat companion was dropped. I have a persistent injury table for when characters get reduced to 0 or less Wounds and survive, but decided against it (for now).

Since the fighter was low on Wounds and the cat was out, they hunkered in for a long rest. Currently characters don't regain all their Wounds after a good night's sleep, instead regaining an amount based on their Constitution. This means that, for now anyway, you can't just take a long rest and have a completely fresh start the next day. I think a full-recovery is something I'd put in place as an optional rule, for games with smaller-than-usual parties, or if the GM just wants to make things easier.

In order to get a better handle on whether characters have "enough" Vitality and Wounds, I decided to throw six skeletons at them in the next encounter. Once they'd taken half of them out, I had a trio of death cultists enter the fray. They're pretty pathetic, being able to take only a combined 8 points of damage and dealing only 1d4 on the off chance they hit.

I'm considering giving characters a +1 to hit at 1st-level, with whatever it is they're "supposed" to be using: fighters would get it for weapon attacks, rangers for melee or ranged weapons (you'd have to choose at the start of the game), wizards with magical attacks, etc. Currently everyone has decent odds of hitting most of the time (at least 55% or better), but they seemed to be rolling fairly poorly most of the time (7 or less).

Even so, the fights started and ended really quickly, which after playing a session or two of un-houseruled 4th Edition is a huuuge plus. I might also change the wizard's evocation magic to deal half damage on a miss, since she's gotta take damage in order to use it in the first place, and it kind of sucks to only make 2-4 attacks in a fight, only to have one or two of the attacks actually hit.

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After only a couple hours of design and writing, The Swordmage is good to go. If you want a solid fighter/wizard hybrid with twenty-five advanced moves to choose from (in addition to some other extras), pick it up.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out!

Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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